April 2006 Breakfast Before Business

Wednesday 19 April 2006 was an action packed BBB as it incorporated the 2006 Annual General Meeting with seven (7) local business operators running for four (4) available positions on the BCCI Board of Management. Whilst scrutineers David Johnston and Len Rix, both BCCI Patrons, counted the votes members heard about the WorkCover Business Assistance Unit from Patricia Wilson.

To see who the new board members are go to Chamber Details

Please find the Chairman’s Report below as presented by Don Conson:

To be the voice of Ballina business was a responsibility that the five consecutive boards I have served on have never trivialized. Given that all board members are volunteers, I believe the key to the current success of this organization is two fold:-

1) It is incorporated and governed by a board of management that ensures all activities undertaken comply within its constitution, set goals that are achievable and work within the financial budgets that are set annually.
2) Those who have put their hand up to serve on the board have a passion to ensure that our town and the business base within it can experience controlled growth and development whilst still retaining the natural assets that attracts those of us who chose to live here and the many others who wish to move in.

I am sure, or can I respectfully say I hope, that this passion I speak of is no different to the passions of the serving Councilors of Ballina Shire Council and it is interesting to note how over the years, the communication between these two organizations has grown with mutual respect. This is not to say we always agree but this relationship is healthy and most necessary if business and the community are to successfully mould population growth, development and improved infrastructure into an environmentally protected plan.

In reflection, I would identify the last twelve months as ‘steady as she goes’ without any spirited controversy, not that there is anything wrong with a good stoush:-

– Nadia, our indefatigable business and promotions manager has settled in well, got on with the job and martialled us all into submission.
– The 2005 ‘Northern Star Ballina Shire Business Awards’ were excellent with the benchmark for Ballina Business continuing to climb.
– The Economic Development Unit we jointly funded with Ballina Shire Council and State & Regional Development is up and running with a major effort initially placed into foundation development. We should see the benefits of all this in years 2 and 3. It may be of interest to note that the five major growth industry sectors highlighted for special recognition within Ballina Shire have been identified as Aviation, Agribusiness, Manufacturing, Tourism and the Marine Industry.

– An immediate success for the EDU that comes to mind is the development of the Ballina Retail Action Group. Their 3rd meeting last week attracted 23 operators who have now put in place a very sophisticated shopping promotion for the forthcoming June 2006 Stock Take sale. Jane Laverty is the EDU Officer. The Chairman of Ballina Chamber fills one of seven positions on the EDU Management Board.
– True to our ‘On the Move’ slogan, our logo was re-branded and the website upgraded so that members can interact and update their profile at any time.
– Networking and Special events continue to enjoy record attendances which reflects the positive attitude and support given to our association.
– Business wise, the main issues we addressed to State and Local Government authorities and instrumentalities over the past twelve months were: lack of confidence relating to power supply into Ballina Shire with Country Energy, the need for the Pacific Highway By-Pass, lack of adequate car parking within Ballina CBD and the critical need for a centrally located multi storey car park, improvement of infrastructure for commercial and community boating needs and completion of the proposed CBD Upgrade. Recently, we joined the debate relating to proposed business rate increases.

It is always appropriate to be mindful of the current major goals of this organization set in concrete some four years ago:-

“Create a positive Ballina culture for business enhancement”
“Preserve the natural assets of Ballina’s environs”

It will be no surprise therefore that our current issues of passion are:-

– Completion of the CBD Upgrade. This is not an impossibility as recent figures received from Council based on original 2002 estimates are:- River Street (Grant to Moon Street) $1.614 million River Street (Cherry to Martin Street $1.684 million
– Multi Level CBD Car Park. It is pleasing to note Council has started the process by issuing tenders for design.
– Development of a 200 berth Marina at Ballina Trawler Harbour. The boating study commissioned by Council in 2004 has lead the way towards an eventual outcome.

Forthcoming issues that will need handling with good thought and research are:-

– Council proposed business rate increase
– Council proposed differential business rate
– State Government soaring Land Tax effect on Business
– Business and Industry input to the comprehensive review of the Ballina Local Environment Plan (LEP) as required by State Government Department of Planning, to be undertaken within 3 years.
– The merger of NSW State Chamber of Commerce with Australian Business Limited. A variety of scenarios are currently being prepared in Sydney as to how independent Regional Chambers of Commerce may care to respond.

All these issues are germane to the future health of Ballina Business and Industry. I am sure there will be more, but nothing that the incoming Board of Directors will not be able to handle. Sadly I will not be part of this as I believe after 5 years of service, 3 as Chairman, it is time for new blood. As with last years AGM, it is simply brilliant that we are again to have an election. This time with 4 positions vacant, 7 people, all extremely eminent within their profession, have put up their hand. Whatever the outcome, I am sure the organization will be well represented. To the outgoing Board Members, I offer my sincere thanks for your unconditional support and assistance throughout the year.

Although it may not be good practice to single out any individual, I am sure in this case you will allow me this indulgence. 5 years ago, we created the position of Secretary/Treasurer which has been filled by Bryan Marriott. 3 years ago, we made the decision to appoint Bryan as the main media contact and spokesman for the organization to ensure continuity and to avoid controversy. From my point of view, Bryan made my job very easy. The financials and minutes of this organization are beyond approach, and with 35 years as a member, he is well versed and passionate. My closing thoughts on the subject? Look after Bryan; whilst he is prepared to give of his time, we will be well served.

Whilst on the thoughts of Don, I do have one more concern that I voiced this time last year that is still apparent within our small business community, but not solely confined to Ballina.:-

The business economy is not keeping pace with rising costs of infrastructure & development

To remain in business, we must all think smarter, seek out the opportunities unique to our business and promote these opportunities ‘till the cows come home’. On the other side, the community must support local business where they are competitive, and reduce the estimated $79 million that is spent outside of the region each year that is termed ‘escaped spending’.
The business programme for Ballina Chamber is clearly defined in the foreword of the 2006 – 2007 Business Directory prepared by Nadia and concludes that we, as members, are encouraged to buy local. If we are to continue to prosper as a community, it is essential that we do this ourselves and then encourage others to do the same. As for business opportunities, small business operators should check the series of workshops to be held as a lead in to this year’s Northern Star Business Excellence Awards, which is all part of the plan to help us think smarter.

Thank you Northern Star and Riverbend Ballina for your Corporate sponsorship this year, which is a vital necessity of financial support required to provide the services we undertake.

Thank you Irene Tory and Natalie of Profsec Secretarial Services for the very professional support and assistance you extended to us throughout the year.

Thank you Nadia Eliott-Burgess, our Business and Promotions Manager for your energy, capacity and strong will to succeed in all endeavors.

Thank you to BCCI members. It has been my pleasure to serve you.

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